Carolyn’s Notes for Virtual Rehearsal 7 – 19/5/20

Published on May 18, 2020,

Dear Choir members

Here we are with our seventh weekly virtual rehearsal so here are more songs and rounds to keep you going and to keep you in good voice!

Yet again it is divided into sections, with anecdotes in italics! But first on to the warm up:

Warm up
Shoulder rolls ending with a hunched gesture and dropping shoulders for perfect singing position i.e. weighted shoulders, straight back with head pulled up like puppet, tucked in tail and softened knees; good for that area where a lot of tension resides. Remember the most recent version of this exercise is: ‘forward, up, back and down’ rather than rolling the shoulders.

Again warm up with simple 4 notes ascending and descending scales to different vowel sounds. Important that as you go higher into head voice switch back to ‘oo’. Don’t forget working on your diaphragm. Inhale for 5 beats with your hand on your stomach, then blow out the breath in 4 short breaths and one long one. Or sing the first phrase of one of our songs but hold onto the last note for as long as your breath lasts. Then move onto the next phrase focusing on a good diaphragmatic breath before each phrase.
Remember the exercise whereby you grab a note suspended from an elastic thread and to ‘oo’ pull the note (voice) gently and smoothly through the registers of your voice. Each time you repeat reach for the note a little higher and stretch it lower to extend your vocal range,

Round: Spring shall surely come again
A last round for Spring!

On the moor I saw a plover, and a curlew call her lover,
Pee-wit! Pee-wit! Spring shall surely come again!


The last of the snippets from the book I wrote for schools with Doc Rowe when I was Education Officer for the EFDSS. As I mentioned before Doc Rowe is a great authority on traditions of the British Isles so here is another bit about Whitsun Games from that book called MAY.

“Whitsuntide was the period of May Games, mainly for the young people who, after dancing round the maypole, would try their strength and skills in wrestling and archery contests. Other games included foot races, trying to catch a greased pig, or making a funny face through a horde collar, climbing a greasy pole, running after a pig with a shaved and well soaped tail, sack racing plus singing and dancing…..”
At Chipping Camden during the reign of James 1 the games featured “football, skittles, quoits, shovel board, cudgel, cock fighting, bowling, wrestling, pitching the bar, horse racing. Ringing of bells, jumping in sacks etc.”
At Coopers Hill near Birdlip in Gloucestershire on Spring Bank Holiday Monday “Large Gloucester cheeses are rolled separately down the slope and pursued by young men and women…..St John’s Ambulance officials are kept busy! This tradition has its origins in grazing rights.

Song list

Hope you all enjoyed ‘Drawing nearer to the merry month of May’!
We have now built up quite a repertoire of May songs which we will be able to develop next May when hopefully (long before then) normal rehearsals will have resumed. The other songs from this term are Brand New Day, Bushes and Briars, Cuckoo in April, Wild Geese, Harbour, Hal an Tow, Rise the Lark and Good Morning Lords and Ladies, as well as various rounds and all now on the website for you to sing along to! Here is a final new May song this week to fit in before our Half Term break, after which it will be June. Doesn’t time fly!

New Song: The Woodford May song

A traditional song from Northamptonshire arranged in 4 parts by Sally Davies who also arranged Bushes and Briars. Another song about Garlands.

Anecdote: more from Doc Rowe

Morris Dancing was traditionally associated with Whit Week. Nowadays it is seen at other times of the year, the summer months especially. “What’s it all mean?” is the most frequently asked question.
Enough has been said of ritual origins…pagan fertility cults… scaring evil spirits with bells and hankies…. fights between good and evil…weather control!
Whether they were ritual dances or not has to remain a mystery – we just don’t know. The earliest documentary evidence of the Morris dance stems largely from Churchwarden’s accounts from the 15th century. “
As I said next week will be Whit Week and therefore no choir rehearsal, after which we are into ‘flaming June’. Like many of you I have spent hours in the garden and ‘everything is coming up roses’; well not quite! Lots of vegetables too! Did I mention that I sowed a packet of Gardeners Delight seeds and am now the proud owner of 26 tomato plants. Just as well I live on them!

With the lockdown slowly easing, some sense of normality is being envisaged!
Sadly for choirs, and any form of live group music making, ‘normality’ will be a long time in coming. When it does arrive I will be there and I hope you will all join me. Can’t wait! Meanwhile have a good Whitsun and stay safe!

18 May 2020

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